Coming into Week 7, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defense ranked fifth overall in Football Outsiders' opponent-adjusted metrics, but a lot of fans, generally frustrated by the malaise created by head coach Greg Schiano, have been very critical of the schemes used by defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan. Specifically, many fans and some analysts question Sheridan's decision to use cornerback Darrelle Revis frequently in zone coverage when Revis, in his first season with the Bucs after six years with the New York Jets, is perhaps the best man-coverage defender of his generation.
Last week, Sheridan popped off at the fans, inviting them to show up at One Buc Place if they think they're so smart.
“What I want to invite them to do is join us. I get here about 5:20 every single morning, and they’re more than welcome to hang around here until about 11 [p.m.] for the first four nights of the week and they can help us put the whole gameplan together," Sheridan said on Thursday.
“We’ve got all the free Cokes you want in the building and we’ll be happy to take those suggestions on how we can better use Darrelle. Trust me when I tell you we painstakingly game plan how best to use all of our personnel, not just Darrelle.”
Here's the thing, Coach. Hubris will tend to bite you right in the butt. In the first half of the Bucs' defensive "effort" against the Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay allowed 211 passing yards from Matt Ryan, who completed 13-of-18 passes and threw for two touchdowns. This without top receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, both out with injuries. Ryan finished the day with 273 yards, on 20-of-26 passing, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Backup receiver Harry Douglas, whose previous single-game high was 133 yards against the Saints last November (the only 100-yard game of his career) amassed 140 yards in the first half on six catches. Douglas and running back Jacquizz Rodgers hauled in touchdown passes against a Tampa Bay defense that was outmanned to an embarrassing degree. But hey -- at least Revis wasn't the one burned by Douglas.
“He is being used, often times, in man-to-man coverage," Schiano said of Revis after the topic blew up. "Whether the whole coverage is man-to-man or just him taking a guy out of the play man-to-man, most fans won’t be able to figure that out by watching it.”
The Falcons won 31-23 -- Schiano called for two field goals in the last five minutes of the game -- and it might behoove Coach Sheridan to be a bit more patient with the fans who, for whatever reason, still show up at Raymond James Stadium to watch a winless team.